Nongogo powerful and captivating production

With Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver playing to excellent houses in the Mannie Mannim the Market Theatre will close its Athol @86 celebration of Athol Fugard as one of the world’s most respected and frequently studied living contemporary dramatists with a season of Nongogo, a powerful and an informed classic that is a dramatic portrait of black people living in the townships.

Nongogo directed by James Ngcobo is set in a shebeen outside of Johannesburg in the 1950’s vibrant yet turbulent time in the history of the country. The play, one of Fugard earliest works, tells the tale of displaced township individuals who are gripped by a futile longing to belong and be loved. In every shebeen you’ll find the broken characters of life, the displaced, the hopeless and the loveless trying to find solace.

Nongogo is a powerful and captivating piece rife with unfulfilled hopes and ambitions, friendship and dependence, dark secrets and jealousy. Even though the characters all carry heavy burdens, the tone throughout the show is light-hearted making it a highly entertaining piece of quality theatre with thought-provoking ideas seeping through rather than imposing to the audience.

Zikhona Sodlaka will debut at the Market Theatre as Queenie a woman of strength, determination, courage as she dreams of a better life and has a past that’s riddle with dark secrets.

Johnny played by Zenzo Ngqobe is an imaginative businessman who is on the verge of cracking his big entrepreneurial break and he develops a relationship with Queenie.

Making his big theatre comeback is Vusi Kunene playing Sam a tough, business like, jealous and in the end nothing more than the pimp he used to be.

Peter Mashigo also makes his long-awaited return to the Market Theatre as Blackie, the deformed man whose love for Queenie clouds his view of life.

Bongani Gumede alumni of the Market Theatre Laboratory portrays Patrick’s character, a pathetic drunkard whose wife is giving birth to his sixth child and he is so indecisive that the only thing he can do is worry about the name he will give to his new son.

The adroit hand of director James Ngcobo has woven a very textured piece that’s jovial yet deep, as events of the past prevent this collection of characters from achieving any brighter outcome in the future.

“Each of the cast members were chosen for their ability to take ownership of their respective characters” explains Ngcobo “The play’s broad theme is ‘Romance’ – it’s such a timeless quality, and love is a primary emotion we all share across the differences of social status. Each actor brought a depth of emotion and understanding of their character’s complexity to the process. It makes for an extremely moving representation of the simplicity of love in a very complex era.”

About Athol Fugard:

Athol Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg in the Karoo. An internationally acclaimed playwright director and occasional actor, for over half a century he has written almost forty soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans which have moved audiences in South Africa and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the inhumanity of apartheid. His plays champion truth and a fundamental universal humanity. In 2011 he received the ultimate recognition from the world’s most prestigious theatre community – a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. He is also the author of four books and several screenplays. His plays include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena, Master Harold and the Boys, The Train Driver, The Blue Iris and The Shadow of the Hummingbird. Many of his works have been turned into films with director Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, based on his 1980 short story of the same name, won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film – South Africa’s first Academy award in this category. Athol’s work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa, through the first democratic elections, to Nelson Mandela’s presidency and into present-day, post-apartheid South Africa.


Set and Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Stage Manager

Bongani Gumede
Peter Mashigo
Vusi Kunene
Zenzo Ngqobe
Zikhona Sodlaka

Athol Fugard
James Ngcobo
Nadya Cohen
Wesley France
Malebo Mokoto

(in alphabetical order)

Press Night:
Performance times:

Friday 15 June – Sunday 15 July 2018
Wednesday 20 June 2018  
The Mannie Manim Theatre
Tuesday – Saturday @20h15
and Sunday @15h15

To make block bookings, please contact Anthony Ezeoke
011 832 1641 ext 203 or Yusrah Bardien 011 832 1641 ext 204

For further information, interviews and images, contact: